Spring into Summer Learning: Brain-Building Activities for Your Child - Video Feature


When school closes for summer break, many children lose access to a regular schedule with interactive learning opportunities. To stay on track for success, it’s critical for kids of all ages to engage in brain-building activities over the summer.

According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), kids experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during summer months. Research shows students typically get lower scores on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. In addition, students lose the equivalent of about two months of math computation skills over the summer.

Once a student falls behind, it becomes even harder for them to catch up. That’s why it’s crucial to sustain the learning momentum in the summer months.

Summer is a great time for building stronger brains. Consider these ideas for a summer full of learning activities:

Kids of All Ages

  • Find a public library near you and consider selecting and checking out books with your child. Researchers from the University of Tennessee say children who read during the summer gain a month of reading growth.
  • Find a free summer reading program for your child at a local library – "On your mark, Get set, Read!" for children and "Get in the Game: Read" for teens.
  • Talk to your summer child care provider about the learning activities they offer. Ask questions about what your child learned during the day when they get home, and engage them in learning more.
  • The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) has great content for kids of all ages and features free e-books, educational games and activities.
  • Visit zoos and museums, or go on a hike. Turn these adventures into brain-building activities by asking questions and discussing what you see with your child.
  • Enroll children in a summer learning program, like a science or art camp. A good summer learning program will allow flexibility in your schedule and offer your child fun and educational opportunities.
  • Access thousands of free ebooks for children through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S., which is available with a library card from your public library and through a computer/laptop or a portable device such as a tablet, a smartphone or an reader.
  • Play learning games. Even simple things like doing the dishes, playing ring toss or buying groceries can be used as fun lessons. There are lots of free learning games online; ask your child’s teacher for recommendations. You can also buy learning games online and in educational stores.

Young Children

  • Sign up for the Governor's Books from Birth program, which provides free quality, age-appropriate books to registered children each month from birth to age 5.
  • Try to read 20 minutes with your children every day year round. Join the First Lady's Read20 Family Book Club, which selects a “Book of the Month” and offers ideas for family activities that relate to the book.


  • Look at job and volunteer opportunities for your teenager. Parks and recreation departments, schools, local businesses and city governments often have summer job programs that provide valuable learning experiences. Working at a summer camp, for example, can help a teen build communication and organizational skills.

More Resources

For more information about summer learning loss and its effects, visit the National Summer Learning Association.

Find more educational activities you can enjoy with your child to prevent summer learning loss.